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Trash or Treasure?

By   /   October 10, 2013  /   Be the first to comment

Chemically unstable framing materials damage paper

Q. I have a print which I found stored in the attic of my parents’ house. It has a lot of browning on the edges and brown spots throughout. What is happening, and can it be removed?
A. The greatest damage to works of art on paper occurs in mounting, matting and framing. Common materials such as inexpensive mat board, corrugated cardboard, rubber cement, glues, masking or transparent tape, etc. contain ingredients which are chemically unstable. These materials deteriorate over time and damage the artwork they are in contact with.
The brown spots you are seeing are called “foxing”. Foxing results from humidity, leading to mold spores.  The damage on the edges is from the cardboard it was stored in. The acid from the cardboard has bled onto the artwork. Paper is naturally absorbent and will take in any gas or liquid that surrounds it.
Avoid storing artwork in a damp basement or attics with inconsistent temperatures. Do not hang artwork on an uninsulated outside wall, store near plumbing or near a heat source.

What to do? Take it to a good framer and if necessary, they will recommend a conservator. Unfortunately, if not caught early, the damage could be irreversible.

Col—Waterman—Porcelier TeapotQ. I inherited this 7” teapot. It has a stamp on the bottom but I cannot make out what it says. Can you identify it and tell me what it could be worth?
A. Your teapot was made by the Porcelier Manufacturing Company from Pennsylvania. The stamp is from 1927-1949 and was one of the earlier stamps they used. Porcelier made a wide variety of porcelain household goods including electrical fixtures, waffle irons and teapots. Common decorations are spring time flowers and woven baskets similar to the body of your teapot. Others found were selling between $25 and $40.

Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter of email with a question, your give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to trashortreasure@ymail.com. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Attn. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.

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